Mall tear-down begins

Onlookers say it's like watching a piece of local history passing away.

The walls of of the former Safeway are torn down as crews begin demolishing the exterior of the old Cloverdale Mall Tuesday.

A large excavator began tearing down the Cloverdale Mall Tuesday, its mighty jaws crunching into wooden beams and boards, sending clouds of sawdust and bits of debris into the air.

It started with the entrance way of the landmark mall’s former anchor store, Safeway. The crisp, dusty scent of freshly-milled lumber hung in the air.

“It’s a little sad to see it go, isn’t it?” remarked one woman who stopped to take a closer look.

“It’s a piece of Cloverdale history,” she said, adding she still missed the Safeway and its staff.

The Safeway store closed in the mid-2000s, precipitating the mall’s inevitable decline.

“When they took the liquor store out, that’s what killed it,” said another onlooker, who was surprised to learn the building was finally coming down.

The leaking, aging mall’s half-dozen remaining tenants – ranging from an insurance company to a theatre troupe – were out at the end of October. The final two tenants – a small Sikh temple and a soup kitchen run by local churches – left at the end of January.

Demolition crews have been removing drywall, asbestos and other materials from the interior for several weeks, trucking materials to recycling facilities.

Utilities will also be removing infrastructure as part of the demolition process.

The mall is being torn down to make way for a new development called Cloverdale West Village, a mix of commercial and residential units.

Construction on the project’s first phase is expected to get underway later this year.

Phase one will consist of a single wood-frame, five-storey building with 22,000 square feet of commercial space, an underground parking lot and 100 residential units on the southwest portion of the site.

The first phase will include a new home for the Cloverdale Legion that’s about the same size as the current branch at 10,000 square feet.